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Direct Engagements Question 4


The "nanny problem" is an important feminist issue because most of the domestic female workers are hired by people who are in upper-middle class families to do all mothers' roles instead. People hire nannies because many women work full time and do not have time to take care their kids. Nannies do all the house chores and take care of kids all day just like mothers and wives do. After Feminism Movement, many females started working outside like males do and it showed that females are also free to choose between career and family. This movement was held to show that women have equal rights like men have, however it brought other issues to our society. As we know, nannies are most likely females, females hiring other females to work as nanny does not seem right to me. It shows a couple immoral issues. First, it shows that money can do everything. Of course, domestic workers are willing to work because they want to make some money; however, this idea can give bad influences to kids who are raised by nannies. Ehrenreich said that kids who are raised in luxurious livings are more likely to become immature. Also, kids might also think that their parents' do not love them much. As a child who was been raised by a nanny, I wished I could be raised by my mom rather than a nanny. I do not have much memories of being with my parents when I was little, and still wished that I could be more loved by my parents. I am sure it is just not me, but also other kids who are raised by nannies would have this issue in the future. Second, why most of nannies are females? Nannies can also be males. We still have a stereotype like females are more organized and better at doing chores than males do. So if they need to hire nannies, then they should hire male nannies as well to show these two genders are equal.

direct engagement.Q4. #1


As we all know the people who have nannies are those who can afford and these are the upper middle class people (men and women). The reason being the mother of the house is working in a professional job as well as the husband therefore not playing her role of a wife. Since she is gone most of the day the nanny has to replace her discipline the kids, cook for them, and help them with the home work and so on. Before feminism movement wives were to take these responsibilities and many mentioned by Judy Syfer. When women were liberating they realized, to be equal to men they needed to have less responsibilities like their men and therefore decided to come up with ways of putting the children in others hands. They came up with day care but it was expensive and others wanted their children to stay home thus hired nannies. The wives who hire the nannies end up paying the nannies very low-wage yet themselves were trying to be equally paid as men. Feminists are responsible for the "nanny problem" because feminism as a movement is supposed to address women's inequality but it seems like that is not the case when some women are reaping the benefits while under compensating others to do domestic labor for them which they would have been responsible for in the previous generation.
On Judy Syfer we see how a woman has no say in anything and in Tronto we see women in well paying jobs and hiring others to take their positions so that they can provide for their family. Seriously when I was reading Judy Syfer's essay I got offended because whatever she mentioned is not what women were meant for but I kind of understood why she said what she said because she had to show it in that the way than saying everything she said in a nice way.

Direct Engagement


A domestic worker is the extra help a busy mother wants. To some it is a blessing, a great opportunity to work outside the home if the mother has young children. As with everything, there are pros and Cons with domestic work. One the problems with domestic are moral education. A moral problem with domestic work is the child sees or learns early the different classes of people. In the reading maid to order the quote that shocked me but clarifies this issue is "I wheel my two-year-old daughter in a shopping cart through a supermarket ...and a little white girl riding past in her mother's cart calls out excitedly 'oh look, mammy, a baby maid.'". The child learning environment is at home, when she/he sees someone cleaning, picking up them; they notice that there is someone lower they can tell what to do. "' lower kinds of people for lower kind of work'" Domestic worker is a feminist issue because someone, despite of race, gender and religion, is treated unfairly. In most case the domestic worker is from a minority group. Also, the work is an invisible work because in most case is not company based, a worker normally seeks jobs from friends who work as a maid. Another thing that contributes to the problem is most people don't want to talk about the domestic worker they have. Employers normally referred to them as help rather than a maid or a nanny. Some the challenges to make domestic work visible are to know how many people are working and the wage they are offered. Making domestic work visible in is not something that can be done easily and hopefully with time it will get better.

Direct Engagement 4, Question 2

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The "nanny problem" as described from a feminist perspective is important for feminists because it works to support the patriarchal system that feminism is actively trying to dismantle. It is a feminist issue because it perpetuates sexist and racial assumptions/roles and, more importantly, is a result of the unforgiving capitalist economy that we subscribe to. Housekeeping requires minimal education, as it is a set of activities that all people who live in a house are subject to performing. By hiring out this work, middle and upper class families are able to take advantage of the luxuries provided by their wealth. Ehrenreich, in more words, says that children raised in these situations become selfish and, frankly, a bitch. Ehrenreich says that this is detrimental to the moral rearing of the children, and ultimately works to perpetuate the negative systems in the first place. Feminism as a collective self needs to work to irradiate systems of oppression, and this can only be started through education. Feminists need to make these systems visible, like the invisible work that is housekeeping, and elaborate to the public why they are harmful.

Direct Engagement Q4 - #2


The nanny problem is important for feminists because the job of a domestic worker, most of whom are overwhelmingly female, emphasizes once again that the place for women to be at is in the house. Although the upper-class women are not at the house doing household chores, the fact that they hire other women to do their chores instead of dividing the chores between the wife and the husband confirms the fact that cleaning and cooking are duties of women. Ehrenreich calls this "a symbolic enactment of gender relations" (88). Thus, feminists should address this gender issue in order to eradicate sexist stereotypes.

This issue also has moral repercussions. Children living in a house where maids, usually women of a minority group, are always cleaning up after their mess and doing the "dirty work," will begin noticing the white superiority that this hierarchy within the household highlights. As Ehrenreich mentions in "Maid to Order" children may even associate the job of a maid with their race. For example, one white child once said to her mom when she saw a child of color, "Oh look, Mommy, a baby maid" (92). Moreover, as Tronto states, "Children may well come to expect that other people, regardless of their connection to them, will always be available to meet their needs" (40). Simply said, children will become spoiled and stuck-up. They will expect others to always clean their mess for them and will take these things for granted. Feminists should deal with this moral issue by "making work visible," meaning that they should let people realize that the job of a domestic worker is an occupation too, although their workplace is a private home for the employer. Thus, the employer and the other family members should treat the domestic worker with respect as you would your employee in a company.

In some ways, I think it is important to gender-neutralize the term "maid" by employing more male maids. If this term is gender-neutralized, the subordination of women by men will no longer exist because domestic workers will no longer be mostly female. Also, establishing a retirement program through the government and providing bonuses for these workers will also help make household work visible because the occupation of a domestic worker will be treated the same as other jobs.

Direct Engagement

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Why should the nanny/domestic workers problem be important for feminists? Why is this a feminist issue? What sort of moral education should children be receiving? What contributions can/should feminists make towards that moral education? Why is the moral challenge to make work visible again? What other moral challenges do housework/the nanny problem create?

I think it's important for feminists to take action about household/domestic labor. I was especially shocked by some of the statistics that were in the pieces we read - women do so much more housework than men. Since the household is seen as a private sphere, it's more difficult to take public/government action, which is why feminist activities such as consciousness-raising are especially important. Women should be able to demand that their partners take on an equal amount of housework without feeling pushy or 'bitchy'. Otherwise, women are constantly forced into a position of subordination - they may be powerful figures in their workplaces, but at home, they are cleaning up after someone else. When children see this pattern, I think they are socialized into believing that this is a 'natural' state for gender roles. The idea that you no longer have responsability for your messes gets created when children can see that someone else will pick up after you - the moral statement that this sends is that as long as you are powerful, the negative repercussions of your actions will be dealt with by someone else. This creates a fundamental lack of caring in a relationship - even if people are happy together, on some deep subconscious level, one member of the relationship believes that they are entitled to do better things with their time than clean. I think children, in order to be sent a better moral message, should be given chores and responsability for clearing their own dishes, cleaning their room, etc. I thought the Ehrenreich piece hit the nail on the head with this issue - it's important for children, even from an early age, not to believe that they can 'weightlessly' drift through life and have someone else clean up after them. When domestic work is hidden, there is no check on exploitation - feminists need to create a media movement to bring attention to the lack of equality in domestic labor.

Direct Engagement 4: Question 2

The nanny/domestic workers problem should be important to feminists because the feminist movement is responsible in part for the problem. Striving to have two-career households in addition to a family creates a need for additional care in the form of domestic workers. The moral education children are receiving because of this situation has two parts. The first is that only women are caretakers and that these women caretakers are often of a different ethnicity and/or social strata; the second is that children do not need to learn to be responsible for household chores because a maid or other person will do it for them, as Ehrenreich posits. Children should be learning that responsibilities cannot always be delegated to a poorly paid and disenfranchised woman. "What we risk as domestic work is taken over by immigrant workers is reproducing, within our own homes, the global inequalities that so painfully divide the world," (Ehrenreich, Course Packet, p. 51). The problem with a child's interpretation of the situation is that often the quality of a nanny's work is measured by their relationship (Tronto, WebCT, p. 4). So relationships between the child and the caretaker (in these instances, maids and nannies) is not expendable- without the emphasis on the rapport between children and caretakers, children may or may not take not of the intricacies of the interactions between all those involved- a child may not notice the way a parent ignores the help, or the exchange of money, etc. if the child didn't depend so much on the caretaker. It is a double-edged sword, though, because if a child does not see the work this caretaker does, the child assumes that things magically get done.

Contributions feminists should be making toward changing the moral education are paying fair wages, spending as much time as possible with their kids and explaining to them the role of hired help. As Ehrenreich and others argue, work needs to be made visible.

Other moral challenges housework and hired help creates apart from a child's problematic perception is the disparity between men and women. Where are all the male nannies in this discussion? Shouldn't housework- whether domestic help is available or not- be split evenly between the genders? I understand that the majority of nannies, housekeepers, etc. are female, but if a kid only ever sees women taking care of the home, that sends the message that men are not responsible for keeping up the home. This is a poor representation of gender roles, especially since women have worked hard to find equality in the workplace, and now the workplace has extended into the home.

Direct Engagement Entry: Question 4: Question Two


Children who are subject to an environment where nannies/domestic workers take care of them and pick up after them and follow whatever duties that another adult tells them to do quickly learn how to stereotype the different working classes. Generally, those who can easily afford a nanny/domestic worker are those who are upper middle class/upper class, while the nanny that works for them are either lower class, or middle class (and haven't had a higher education). I think the healthiest nanny that a child can have to support a moral education is a nanny that is young and still going to school. A lot of college students nanny during the summer and can still teach the value of work to the child they're taking care of without forcing a stereotypical view of the different classes.
I think the only reason this should be an issue at all is because of the children who are in this environment are not learning the values that they should to succeed in the real world where they will not be dependent on anyone else. It is a feminized career, even if TV has seen past it (Alice may be the nanny on The Brady Bunch, but what about Geoffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air???), but that's only because of the way that things used to be with women doing all of the things nannies/domestic workers now do, something that has changed a great deal of time, but still needs more time to completely be forgotten.
Children should be taught from a young age that they need to take responsibility, first by having to clean up after themselves, and that responsibility that is gained from knowing that you need to do things yourself and not depend completely on others is the moral education that children should be receiving. If the nanny takes care of the children only for the things that the children can't do for themselves, then the children learn what work is, and that makes work visible again. Making the job about doing what children need, and not what they'd prefer is really the only thing that feminists can do to make the point clear to future generations what work really is.
The only other problem with nannies/domestic workers isn't so much a moral challenge. Children need to be around their mothers (Notice, I say mothers. Fathers are important as a societal choice, biologically, they're not nearly as important.) to gain the bond that is absolutely necessary for development, if the mother chooses to work so often that they barely ever see their children, the child's not going to develop emotionally, and even physically, and it's going to cause serious problems in adulthood.

Question 4: 2/23-2/25

The Nanny Problem (and no we are not talking about Fran Drescher...):

Group B should post their direct engagements by tomorrow night. Groups C and D should post their comments by Tuesday at noon. For your direct engagement for this week, pick one of the following questions (from Thursday's group activity):

Question One:

...the use of nannies allows upper middle-class women and men to benefit from feminist changes without having to surrender the privilege of the traditional patriarchal family. The hired household worker is an employee, but she is mainly treated as if she were a wife (Joan Tronto, 47).

How are feminist responsible for the "nanny problem"? What do you think of Tronto's charge in relation to Judy Syfer's essay? What connections can you draw between Tronto's claim and the essays by Ehrenreich and Flanagan?

Question Two:

...what kind of moral education does one learn from being in a household in which one adult is so clearly subordinate to others (Tronto, 40)?

To be cleaned up after is to achieve a certain magical weightlessness and immateriality....A servant economy may provide opportunities, however, limited, for poor and immigrant women. But it also breeds callousness and solipsism in the served, and it does so all the more effectively when the service is performed close up and routinely in the place where they live and reproduce. ...The moral challenge is, put simply, to make work visible again (Ehrenreich, 102-103).

Why should the nanny/domestic workers problem be important for feminists? Why is this a feminist issue? What sort of moral education should children be receiving? What contributions can/should feminists make towards that moral education? Why is the moral challenge to make work visible again? What other moral challenges do housework/the nanny problem create?

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